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Festival not a washout

June 12, 2004|By CANDICE BOSELY

HARPERS FERRY, W.VA.

No lines, a good selection of items, no admission fee and a parking spot right by the gates were the rewards for those willing to brave the rain Friday at the 33rd annual spring Mountain Heritage Arts and Crafts Festival.

Although patrons were sparse - a rain-soaked parking attendant just shrugged his shoulders before telling drivers to park in a section of Sam Michaels Park normally reserved for handicapped people - several artisans said the day was not a waste.

At the festival, nearly 200 artisans have items for sale, including original paintings and prints, clothing, furniture, toys, food, leather products, musical instruments, slate signs, framed photographs, pottery, quilts, wooden bowls, rugs and glass items.

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Artists come from across the country and are judged before being allowed to exhibit their work.

The festival continues today and Sunday, while the annual fall show is scheduled for Sept. 24-26.

Despite Friday's weather, pessimism was not to be found in the tent of Shirley Snyder and Connie Citro, owners of Blue Ridge Basketry in Harpers Ferry.

"It has not been a complete wash," Snyder said.

She said the weather was better than a year ago, when rain and wind gusts caused tents to wreak havoc on some artisans' work. Snyder said a few baskets in her tent were crushed when shelves were knocked over.

This year, though, the women sold some baskets and received compliments about their work.

Together, they made more than 300 baskets for the show.

"We could teach Longaberger something," Snyder said.

Leanne Cobb's booth featured wire-sculpted jewelry, including earrings and bracelets. Custom-made rings also are popular.

"Usually on a good Saturday, I'll have kids four deep here," said Cobb, of Shenandoah Junction, W.Va.

Christmas spider ornaments are another of Cobb's hot sellers. A European folk tale says that one Christmas, merry spiders strung webs among the branches of a Christmas tree.

When the "Christ child" spotted the webs, he touched a tip and turned them to gold - creating the first garland, according to an informational sheet posted by the ornaments.

Cobb also reported a decent day's worth of business.

"I think people make the decision that they're going to come out here and they do whether it's rainy or sunny," she said.

The owners of Stillridge Herb Farm, in Woodstock, Md., may have been some of the few benefiting, at least partially, from the rain.

Shelves of fresh plants, including heirloom vegetable plants, were placed outside of a tent and were getting a nice soaking. Dried flowers inside, though, do not benefit from the moisture, farm employee Mary Fiedler said.

Dried flowers, potpourri, potpourri products, teas and seasonings were among the items offered in the fragrant booth.

Foul weather was not going to keep away some regular customers.

"You may not know their names, but you definitely recognize their faces," Fiedler said. "They're die-hards."

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